Th Reading Lair

Archive for February, 2010

  • Science Heroes: Transmission Zero Hour

    Saturday, February 27th, 2010

    Good Saturday, Ladies and Gents.

    If you’ve been lurking with me for some time now, you’ll no doubt be familiar with a few of the lesser (though widely admired) truths about me. Factual points such as (1) I’ve never before posted on a Saturday, (2) I’m an incredibly svelte ninja warrior whose book fetish is only rivaled by a love for food and sarcasm, and (3) I do not EVER review music. Ever.

    Well, get over it because I’m doing a music review. Right here. Right now. And it’s Saturday.

    I mean–let’s face it–it’s not every day that one’s brother-in-law negotiates the quantum leap between electronic rock and classic literature and plugs them both into a vigorous full-length album. These guys are true to their title: Science Heroes (aka: Andy Weber & Josiah Martens), and their album “Transmission Zero Hour” comes out today in correlation with their release show at the Muse Lounge tonight in their hometown of Eugene, Oregon.

    In a recent chat with Andy about the literary thematic elements entwined through the music (because, yes, I did get a pre-listen), he responded with, “Why yes, in fact. The song ‘Sharp of Tooth’ is a reference to the Enuma Elis—the Babylonian creation myth.”

     Say what? Yeah . . . he’s a well-read mastermind.

    He then proceeded to elaborate on how the song “In Which Dr. Carter Unleashes Arcane and Malevolent Forces Upon the Waking World” is a faux H.P. Lovecraft-ian tale of horror, and that “’Hamilcar’ recasts the titular father of the famed Carthaginian general (Hannibal) as the Noir anti-hero,” making a connection to Plutarch’s Lives, or even Livy’s The Early History of Rome.

    Philosophical, you say? Yes. And yet these boys tear apart TVs and attach them to synthesizers for better sound. And somehow it works and I love it. Perhaps a little too much.

    The album is available for download right now from here: store.scienceheroes.net

    And you can find them mixing science and sound here: http://www.scienceheroes.net/

    I only hope this doesn’t ruin Andy’s ego for family gatherings.

    Now all they need are their own rabid fan girls.

    Hmm. . . .  Any volunteers?

    Cover design by PUNCH.

     

     What’s the Mood Noise of the Moment?  Science Heroes of course.

    02 In Which Dr. Carter Unleashes Arcane and Malevolent Forces Upon the Waking World by Science Heroes

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    Posted in Literary Classics | 12 Comments »

  • A Recipe for Womanly Rolls

    Monday, February 22nd, 2010

    So I’m in the mood for homemade bread rolls. The butterlicious kind.

    This is partly owing to the drizzly rain out my window and the oak trees creaking about overhead. I want something warm to eat by the fire while I continue my reading of the Hythrun Chronicles (a high fantasy series by Australian author, Jennifer Fallon). That’s the other excuse for my craving. There’s a lady cook in the first book who sports wide hips and a “round face flushed from the heat of the [kitchen] stoves.” No, it’s not the physical description of her that inspires the homey breadmaker in me, but rather the romantic notion that having the “faint sheen of flour” on one’s skirt is somehow loads more womanly than say, popping open a Pillsbury tin.

    However, I admit to being an incredibly lazy bread roll maker–having very little patience for a food fantasy to make its way from idea to reality to mouth. Hence, I’ve decided to make these Butterlicious Womanly Rolls (I’ve just now termed them that). Fast, short rising (comparatively), and just the best thing ever. Especially when served with a crunchy green salad laced with a red wine viniagrette.

    But tell me, my reading friendlies. What will YOU make for dinner tonight?  

    Butterlicious Womanly Rolls

    1. 2 packages yeast
    2. ½ cup warm water
    3. 4 ½ cups flour
    4. ¼ cup sugar
    5. 1 tsp. salt
    6. 10 Tab. melted butter
    7. 1 egg
    8. 1 cup warmed milk

    Directions: Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let stand for 15 minutes. In a separate bowl, stir 2 cups of flour with the sugar and salt. Add 6 Tablespoons of melted butter, the egg, milk, and yeast mix. Beat for 5 minutes. Add 2 ½ cups flour and mix, kneading until the dough becomes stretchy. Cover and let rise in a warm spot for 45 minutes (mixture will double). Butter a 9×13-inch pan and place chunks of the dough in, making 12 rolls altogether. Pour the last 4 Tab. of butter over the top, then cover, allowing it to rise another 30 minutes. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 12-17 minutes.

    :0)

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    Posted in Reading Recipes | 12 Comments »

  • What Will Dan Brown Do Next? (a multiple choice)

    Monday, February 15th, 2010

    Ah, Mr. Dan Brown. What fun we have at your expense.

    Not only was last Friday’s post concerning your feats and faults a charming load of good fun (thank you, Dani!), but so is this Edinburgh professor’s blog on the subject.

    Which brings me around to the fact that we cannot end our entertainment at dear old Danny Boy’s expense without our GAME. (You knew it would come to this–did you not, my reading friendlies???)

    And so we begin another round of What Will They Write Next? But this time I’m giving multiple choice options. Choose one or create your own. All’s fair in blood and war.

    (A)  Codex Fēmina Robert Langdon attempts to retrieve an ancient manuscript which purports to offer insight into the greatest mystery of all time: Woman.

    (B) The Lost Symptoms Langon is aged and seeking to document the uncommon maladies that plague him and his fellow Bridge clubians. The only problem is the decrepit members keep dying off.

    (C) Dan Brown on Writing An author’s intimate journal on life and writing combined with a how-to manuel for creating the next bestseller which not only rakes in millions but offends your grandmother’s old time religion all in one.

    (D) Other (fill in the blank)

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    :0)

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    Posted in Best & Worst Books, Games | 24 Comments »

  • Deciphering Dan Brown (a guest review)

    Friday, February 12th, 2010

    Meet Dani Indie. My guest reviewer for today. She’s smart, sassy, and in the middle of moving to Arizona (which, if my suspicions are correct, is simply an excuse to stalk  Stephenie Meyer all the better, but don’t quote me). I’d already asked her to do a blog post (as she’s a beautiful genius) when I received a challenge to personally ”fast” writing one in an effort to pray for and promote hope and awareness concerning the Haitian people. Being one to rarely duck a challenge, I agreed, and this is my perfect alternative. Also, be sure to watch the video below and have your own awareness raised on the plight of nearly every neighbor surrounding our beautiful country :-). xo

    Dan Brown has authored five novels: Digital Fortress, Deception Point, Angels and Demons, The Da Vinci Code, and The Lost Symbol. His writing style is fast-paced and he loves stories about codes, hidden messages and secret groups plotting to alter the world in some way, shape, or form.  The novels entertain, and I found myself frequently pausing to muse over the plausibility of his scenarios or grabbing pen and paper to try to solve a code before the protagonists did (I failed miserably).

    Brown’s strengths are the codes he constructs and plots that he devises; the more controversial, the better.  When The Da Vinci Code shot to the top of bestseller lists, churches everywhere were panicking that Brown was going to ruin the entire history of The Church.  The panic amuses me, because a) IT’S FICTION and b) do you honestly think that, after two thousand-ish years of Christianity, ONE BOOK is going to cripple the Kingdom? Perhaps you should re-think your beliefs!  But anything controversial fascinates readers, and Brown’s creativity invites the curious to discover just what he’s thought of now!

    So, my problem with Brown’s writing does not stem from his controversial views on religion (shocking for this formerly-homeschooled-dyed-in-the-wool-conservative), but his abuse of the English language (check out the link–number 11 is my favorite) and the pedantic, plodding conclusions of his latest novels.  Since the thriller genre is not well known for its elegant use of language, perhaps some could overlook Brown’s sentences.  In fact, his two stand-alone novels (Digital Fortress and Deception Point) are exactly what an action novel should be.  Sadly, this is not the case for the latter three books.

    I first listened to The Da Vinci Code on CD during a road trip with my husband and when we heard “the end”, my husband shouted, “that’s it?!” Honestly, this is the first case I’ve ever witnessed of the film being better than the book: but even the movie ending wasn’t very satisfying.  The conclusion of Angels & Demons is only slightly more agreeable (guy gets the girl), but is marred by Brown’s literary drool over the female protagonist (proclaiming the benefits of a yoga instructor as a lover SEVERAL times).  By far the worst is the conclusion of The Lost Symbol.  The story finishes four chapters from the actual end of the book, but Brown’s trusty hero Robert Langdon and the new female protagonist (not a yoga instructor) go on a campout under the dome of the Capitol Building (seriously?) and, even though he hasn’t slept in 24 hours, Langdon contemplates humanity’s elevation to god-status in a three-chapter psychobabble jazz odyssey.  So not cool.  Brown just runs out of gas at the end of his books; either he can’t let go of the story (The Lost Symbol) or he just ends it (The Da Vinci Code).

    So, if you’re out of books on your to-read list, I recommend Brown as an author to be considered for sheer entertainment value or as a conversation starter.

    And speaking of conversations, have you read any of Brown’s books? What did YOU think?

    Daniella Indie received her BA in English from Cal Poly, SLO, and currently works as a freelance editor.  She has been married to her husband, Anthony, since 2003 and they have 3 children: Jonathan, Hannah and Joshua. When not making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or cleaning the house, Daniella likes to write spiritual meditations, romantic fiction and poetry and can often be found playing her piano. Daniella’s blog can be found at daniellaindie.wordpress.com.

    What’s the mood noise of the moment?  Sarah Mclachlan:  World on Fire

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    Posted in Best & Worst Books, Book Reviews | 11 Comments »

  • A Recipe on Cooking With Dog

    Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

    My husband’s family is amazing. All of them.

    They do brilliant things like Engineering (take your pick–Nuclear, Civil, Architectural), swim the Catalina Channel (while pregnant), get paid to direct and produce short films, discuss the writings of Kierkegaard for breakfast, and make incredibly beautiful children. And they do it all while looking pretty darn hot. 

    To top it off? They cook.

    So last weekend we got together over wine and food (LOTS of food) and discussed our normal array of dinner topics. Stuff like: who would win who in hand-to-hand combat (pretty sure we all knew it would be me), pregnancy symptoms (totally not me), homogenized versus non-homogenized milk, spooning, Conan the Barbarian (those being separate topics there–don’t read that as “spooning with Conan the Barbarian,” although come to think of it that might’ve come up), and of course–what books we’re currently reading.

    And this, my dear friendlies, is what we ate. (See video link below.)

    It. Was. Unbelievable.

    Oh wait–before you watch it, you have to leave one word in the comment box to sum up YOUR family’s dinner conversation :-).

    HOW  TO  MAKE  OKONOMIYAKI   <– Now just clickety-click!

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    And how about a bit of mood music to go with your meal?

     Within Temptation:  What Have You Done

    :0)

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    Posted in Reading Recipes | 17 Comments »

  • The Red Tent (a review)

    Friday, February 5th, 2010

    I recently finished The Red Tent by Anita Diamant (a book club read) and have been debating whether to review it here; my deliberation based around the fact that I didn’t LOVE it. However, the novel’s immense popularity with literary groups and book club listings has led me to consider that I should at least provide a summation for you. So . . . here we go.

    The Red Tent is a Jewish woman’s adaptation of the biblical story of Jacob, Rachel, Leah, and Dinah, told through Dinah’s POV. Imaginative and full of gritty detail, the book begins with Jacob’s initial encountering of Rachel and Laban and ends with Jacob’s death during the time in which his son, Joseph, is a ruling official in Egypt.

    The weaving thread through the tale is the women’s stories: their lives and perspectives, their grief and joy, their jealousies and camaraderie, all revolving around the red tent—a sacred place reserved for the first rite of womanhood, the feminine cycle, religious practices, birth, gossip and the passing on of tradition and stories.

    Through feminine eyes, Ms. Diamant leads us to experience the romantic life of Jacob with his individual wives and their slaves, along with the household’s constant stress over Laban and, later, Jacob’s brother, Esau. Eventually we see the family settle down and Jacob’s sons grow into men and take their own wives.

    Enter Dinah center stage.

    Dinah’s personal story shifts to play top billing in our narrative around the time of her first womanly cycle and her subsequent trip to Shechem with her aunt Rachel (who is called upon by the palace for her skill in midwifery). In Shechem, Dinah meets Shalem, the prince, and the two find instant, mutual attraction. Shortly after returning home, Dinah is called back to Shechem under the guise of serving the queen, and in that ripe setting, falls in love with, and marries, Shalem.

    Unfortunately for the love-birds, two of Jacob’s sons will have none of it, and even though Shalem and his whole city pay the bride price in full (awkward “ouch” here), the brothers murder every man in the city, including Prince Shalem and the king. Dinah, newly pregnant and devastated, runs off with her mother-in-law to Egypt. There, a son is born who eventually becomes an Egyptian noble, serving under Dinah’s brother Joseph (who thinks her dead, as does her entire family), while Dinah carries on the art of midwifery.

    What I liked:

    1. Beautiful word choices and metaphors.
    2. The strong feminine perspective.
    3. Diamant’s rich nod to midwifery and its historical role.
    4. The female relationships and the honoring of traditional storytelling.

    What annoyed me:

    1. Towards the end, the story altered from the original biblical script enough to become a point of distraction. Don’t misunderstand me—I enjoy stories that play off of others, or stretch them even. But when playing off one this well-known, the differences shouldn’t be so dramatic as to pull me out of the narrative.
    2. The flagrant lines the author draws between the masculine (men and their “male” god are negatively spun as boorish, perverse, lazy, and war-hungry) and feminine (slanted as responsible, understanding, and nurturing). After a while, the amplification of these generalizations becomes tiresome.
    3. Considering that the murders of Shalem (Dinah’s lover) and the rest of Shechem’s male inhabitants are the pivotal altering circumstances in Dinah’s life (as well as in the novel), the author should have spent a few pages describing the trauma of those events and not just the aftermath.

    All right, reading friendlies. Your turn. Have any of you actually read this book or even HEARD of it? What are your thoughts on it???

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     What’s the mood noise of the moment? 

    Science Heroes:  Thanks for Nothing

    Thanks for Nothing from Science Heroes on Vimeo.

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    Posted in Best & Worst Books, Book Reviews | 17 Comments »

  • Chunk lit and the Status of Full-bodied Babes

    Monday, February 1st, 2010

    The Chick lit genre has apparently become a little more, er . . . well-developed over the past few years. So much so that she’s managed to curve out yet another little sub-genre. Chunk lit.

    According to The Guardian, Chunk lit “features a new [type of] heroine: the young woman who is seriously overweight – and doesn’t care.”

    I take it that some brilliant publishing company finally figured out a few of those Prada-wearing, smoke-inhaling, diet-binging female protagonists in Chick lit-world are inevitably destined to reap the hazards of the fast life. Mainly–they can’t stay waifs forever.

    Not just that, but there are an expanding number of readers growing weary with the cookie-cutter scrawny heroines who get all the glory, all of the time, with all the hot guys. Why? Because at the heart of it, readers want to relate. And let’s face it—it’s a little hard for most of America to relate to a 93 pound, high-powered business tycoon in stiletto heels who hasn’t yet had the privilege of changing a diaper at four in the morning in all of her bad-breath, frizzy-haired magnificence.

    Okay, so officially, Chunk lit is a layreader’s term. But here’s the question–Is allotting a bunch of “seriously overweight” chicks their own sub-category actually a good thing, or is it offensive? Should one’s weight make a defining difference either way?

    :0)

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    Posted in Genre Savvy | 19 Comments »

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